Everyone has heard of the big names in Fast Food like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. However, there are several smaller quick service chains that deserve your love, too. Here are the coolest fast food chains we could find that you might not have heard of before. Warning: you might have to plan a road trip after reading.
Location: Southern California
California is known for their superior Mexican food and Albertacos is no exception. This small, local chain has been wowing local folk since its was born. Albertacos is especially known for their carne asada fries and their breakfast burrito. There is some speculation about what could possibly make Albertacos’ breakfast burrito so good, but the general consensus is that it’s all in their fluffy, flawless tortilla and fresh eggs.
Location: Washington, DC
Cava Grill is basically God’s gift to man. The concept runs in a sort of Chipotle-fashion with multiple stations on somewhat of an assembly line, but the food is Mediterranean rather than Mexican. Cava Grill is especially known for their spreads, which include harissa, hummus, Crazy Feta, and roasted red pepper hummus. These spreads are so good that they’re produced in small batches and sold to local Whole Foods stores.
If you’ve ever heard of a “Chicago hot dog,” Portillo’s is it. They opened their doors in 1963, and Chicagoans and Midwesterners have been obsessed ever since. While Portillo’s does sell other items besides hot dogs, like sandwiches and ribs, you should definitely opt for the classic dog. Their’s is served with mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, kosher pickle and peppers all on a steamed poppy seed bun.
Whataburger is essentially the Texas version of In ‘N Out, but if any devoted fans read this they will probably fight back in protest. Texans are very passionate about their Whataburger, and they think their burgers are in a league of their own. Who knew people could be so territorial about a piece of meat!
Location: North Carolina/Virginia
Biscuitville is pretty amazing. It’s basically a dream of ours to walk into an establishment and be able to order essentially anything served in between two warm slices of biscuit. The restaurant calls North Carolina and Virginia home, and specializes in breakfast sandwiches. A few standouts from the menu include a Pimento Cheese & Bacon Biscuit and the BLT Biscuit.
Golden Krust Bakery
Location: New York City
Golden Krust is a franchise chain located primarily in New York. They’ve branched out to a few nearby states in the past couple years due to a widespread demand, but majority of the locations are still in the Empire State. Golden Krust specializes in Caribbean food, which in our opinion is severely underestimated among the fast casual scene. The place is especially known for their flaky and filling beef patties, but serves up several other Caribbean favorites like Jerk Chicken and Braised Oxtail.
Location: Chicago, IL
Buffalo Joe’s is another Chicagoland establishment that has a lot of fans. Most locations are located in Evanston, IL, which is a college town, and students can’t get enough of the stuff. “Buff Joe’s,” as the place is lovingly called, is especially known for their buffalo wings and tenders. The place also serves classic Chicago dogs, but you should really go for the wings.
Harold’s Chicken Shack
Most Harold’s locations lie in the Chicagoland area, more specifically on the South Side, where the chain originated. Harold’s has become immensely popular mainly by word of mouth. The chain doesn’t even have a website or major social media accounts. They pride themselves on making insanely delicious chicken and a variety of unique sauces.
Nando’s Peri Peri
Location: East Coast & Illinois (DC, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois)
Nando’s is extremely popular for their flame grilled chicken seasoned with peri-peri sauce. This sauce originated in Portugal and areas of West Africa, and is primarily composed of crushed chillis, which gives the sauce its red hue. Nando’s does the dish well, and East Coasters have started following the chain with cult-like intensity.
Location: California, Nevada, Florida, Arizona
Smoke’s Poutinerie is a joint serving up poutine, or fries with cheese curds, gravy, and various meats, in the Western area of the US. The chain originated in Canada, which is not surprising since the country is the birthplace of the stuff. Poutine has become a guilty pleasure for many and for good reason: it’s one of the most delicious things on the planet.